MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Health advocates are celebrating a medical milestone. The number of Americans dying from cancer is dropping.

The American Cancer Society reports cancer mortality rates have continuously dropped for 25 years. And better yet, the report found more than 70 percent of cases in the United States are potentially preventable. The study shows major improvement, but also some areas that could use improvement.

Cancer is a big part of Stefanie Gliniany’s story. Not long after the 27-year-old bride married the love of her life in 2013, she got into the fight of her life.

“The doctor gave me an exam and while she was giving me an exam, she felt the tumor and said I think that you have cancer,” Gliniany said.

It was a rare and vicious type of cervical cancer. It meant six months of chemotherapy, radiation — and that she would never carry a child.

“It was really, really hard for my husband and I going through treatment. I got to do this, got to put one foot in front of the other, figure it out, you don’t have another choice, you have to do what you have to do,” Gliniany said.

Five years later, she is now cancer free, and she and her husband adopted her well-loved son, named Henrik. She spends her days encouraging survivors at Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance, MOCA.

And survivors are multiplying. According to the American Cancer Society’s new study, cancer deaths are down 27 percent since 1991.

Matt Flory works out of the Eagan office of the ACS, and says the study shows promise.

“That’s 2.6 million people that did not die of cancer, and we’re really excited about that trend,” Flory said. “We think it’s because of more prevention fewer people smoking more early detection and much better treatment.”

Flory specializes in tracking Minnesota’s data. He says Minnesota is making progress with colorectal cancers, deaths are down, but cancers from the HPV virus are up. Flory says there’s a need for more Minnesota children to get vaccinated. He also says deaths are higher for those with lower incomes.

“What we see in terms of the disparity is not everyone has healthcare access or is able to make appointments a priority, and so some people are lagging behind and we want to do everything we can to make sure everyone has what they need to prevent this disease or to beat it if they do get a diagnosis,” Flory said.

And clearly that can be done. The American Cancer Society says a key to surviving cancer is to have a regular relationship with a doctor, getting screened and not being afraid to ask questions when something seems off.

The entire study is available to read online.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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